Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50k

Oops. Looks like I once again forgot to blog about an ultra. A few weeks ago was the VHTRC’s Magnus Gluteus Maximus FatAss 50k. Great times were had by all. I ran 24 miles to be “conservative” while recovering from my Grindstone/Masochist tendinitis (which I am happy to say is long gone). Anyways, here are a few shots since I’m not going to get around to writing more about it. We ran. We drank. We were festive. THE END.

The rest of my pictures from the event can be found here.

4 posts in 1 because I’m lazy!

Yikes! Where has the summer gone? For those religiously following this blog (ha, yeah right), it probably appears that I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth since Badwater. Quite the contrary, I’ve been pretty busy and once again have been slacking on the blogging. To catch up, here’s a quick summary of four recent events: Catherine’s FatAss 50k, Riley’s Rumble Half-Marathon pictures, Coach Mike’s Impromptu 50k, and Grindstone Training Runs Weekend.

Catherine’s FatAss 50k
July 18, 2009

Having been back from Badwater for only a day, I made my way out to the usual spot (Massanutten Trails) with the usual suspects (VHTRC crew) for some more pounding on the legs. What better way to kick off my 100 miler training than 30ish miles pacing at Badwater, 22 miles on Mt Whitney and a 50k, all in one week?

Michelle, Sophie, myself and Marc on Bird Knob overlook

The weather was beautiful, although a tad too humid for my liking having just been in Death Valley. I ran with Sophie for most of the day and we chit-chatted about training, Badwater, and people who need people. At one aide station we came across a strange looking creature that I’ve never seen in the woods. It moved slowly, had an odd looking white head, and seemed keen to eat whatever was in sight. Oh wait, nevermind that was just Alisa Springman wearing her Badwater sun hood while she worked the aid station!

Alisa, post-Badwater, trying to cool me down for a change

All in all, it was a sweaty good day of running (no joke, probably the most I’ve ever sweated in my life… thanks heat acclimation training!) that ended with a phenomenal BBQ and party at the finish line. Thanks to Tommy and Kirstin for manning the grill, and Jeff for organizing the whole event and providing the grub and tasty adult beverages. This is really what summer is all about!

Finish line BBQ and party… great times!

See the rest of my CFA pics HERE.

Riley’s Rumble Half-Marathon pictures
July 26, 2009

I once-again pretended to be a photographer while spectating at the Riley’s Rumble Half-Marathon in Gaithersburg, MD. It started pouring right after the start, but luckily the camera survived and I was able to get some cool shots once the skies opened back up. Check out all the pictures HERE.

Kelly Hunsecker finishing Riley’s Rumble Half
Ominous Mark Zimmerman before race start

Coach Mike’s Impromptu Monday Morning 50k
July 27, 2009

My coach, Mike Broderick, has been slowly but surely planting the ultra seed into a few road runners that he coaches. Most gullible… errr… willing to partake our wonderful sport were Renee Bates and Eve Mills. Mike asked if I wanted to partake in the fun, and not having any pressing deadlines at work, I took the day off and went for a nice 31 mile jaunt on the Seneca Greenway trails. We started at the crack of dawn from Mike’s driveway, headed a block to the trailhead, and off we went, passing various aid drops that Mike had made the night before.

Can you hear me now? Good!

Renee and Eve seemed to enjoy themselves on the trails. As road runners, I think it was the walking breaks that they seemed to enjoy the most! Ahh the joys of ultrarunning.

Eve leading Renee through some nice open Seneca Greenway trails

Back-to-Back Grindstone Training Weekend
August 8-9, 2009

Clark Zealand, RD for the Grindstone 100, put together a nice little training weekend for those of us who needed to familiarize themselves with the race course. With the race being 50 miles out and 50 miles back, we were able to see every step of the race course while only running half the course.

We camped at the Shenandoah Boy Scout Camp, the race’s start/finish, and carpooled to our starting location each morning. Saturday morning we started at the race’s turnaround, which has been extended a tad from last year’s course after recalculating distances. Day 1 consisted of 30 miles, ending at Dowell’s Draft and taking us through miles 50-80 of the course.

Day 1 at the (yet to be named) turnaround point

Jeremy Ramsey, Jared Hesse, Clark Zealand and myself held down the front of the pack all of Saturday, marking the course as we went. David Horton was with us for the first mile or so, but he was still recovering from his Colorado Trail Speed Attempt so he made the smart move and dropped off. Running with these guys was tough at times, but being able to keep up all day was a huge boost of confidence, showing how much endurance/speed I gained back after all my time off from the ITB injury.

Day 2 started where we finished the day before, Dowell’s Draft, and took us all the way to the finish at Camp Shenandoah. Instead of hammering it out with the Lynchburg boys again, I took the conservative route and as per usual found myself running with Sophie (she’s good entertainment and we have the same comfortable pace… a win-win situation). And no, the matching VHTRC gear was not intentional, we just have club pride!

Sophie and I at the end of Day 2

The combined 50+ miles for the weekend left my quads thoroughly trashed, the perfect training for me since the flat stuff I run on around home doesn’t cut it in terms of any mountable elevation gain. Seeing the course (and getting the GPS readings) was a huge confidence boost as well, so come race day I should at least have some familiarity with where I am and what is to come. Let the logistics planning begin!

About midway through Saturday, my left calf/soleus started to feel tight. The tightness continued all day so I stretched and massaged the crap out of it post-run. Sunday started out fine, but for a few miles mid-way through the day the soleus tightness came back. What was up? Apparently my 3 mile barefoot run on the Thursday prior, combined with a 50 mile weekend, was too much stress on the soleus too soon. Lesson learned, ease slower into the barefoot running! No worries though, the tightness went away after a recovery week with low mileage.

See the rest of my Gstone Training Weekend pics HERE.

Browtown Loop 4th of July run

Independence day is celebrated slightly differently in the VHTRC than with most typical Americans. Yes, we wear our red, white and blue and we drink our beer, but instead of sitting around on our lazy butts, we prefer to take in the enjoyment of the beauty that mother nature has bestowed upon these wonderful United States of America.

The gang’s all here

This was my first ever Browntown Loop, but the tradition has been carried on for 9 years now. Roughly 25 runners met at the Massie’s Corner and carpooled to the trail head. Now, like some other shindigs that I’ve been to with the club, an organized event is not technically allowed on these sections of trail, so the disorganization of the event allowed those “in charge” to deny any sort of responsibility for the run and/or post-run party.

The course took us through the usual Shenandoah National Park, an out-and-back to an overlook (pictured below), across Skyline Drive and onto some country roads that ultimately lead us into the small town of Browntown. I ran with Brad Hinton, Brian Schmidt and John Cassilly for the majority of the run. Sean Andrish also made appearances at the beginning and end, but his knee was causing problems from a fall a few weeks back so he took a shortcut across the AT instead of heading into Browntown. Once in Browntown, we were treated to our only aid station of the day, the general store for the small town. Being the frontrunners, we purchased some ice, water, soda and snacks and left any unused goods for the next batch of runners to make their way through.

Sean Andrish, myself, Brad Hinton and John Cassilly at the overlook
Two elusive loverbirds caught in the act. Get moving, you two!
Brad, myself and Schmidty at the Browntown general store

Heading out of Browntown was a few more miles of road, followed by a nice steep climb up to the AT and Skyline Drive. After having left us many miles back, Sean Andrish caught back up and his knee was feeling better than ever. Great for him, bad for me! This dude is speedy, and for the last few miles of downhill, John Cassilly and myself struggled to keep up with Sean, Brad and Schmidty. Schmidty is actually tapering for his first 100 out at Vermont in a few weeks, so if this is his taper speed, he’s gonna rock it out at VT. (Side note: I am late in writing this blog post and Schmidty just yesterday ran the VT100… 5th place!)

John and myself finished the 21-mile loop in 3:56, just a few minutes behind the speed demons. It was a beautiful run to celebrate the 4th and we were able to soak in the cold stream post-run for recovery. I am glad to say that my IT Band didn’t act up one bit, and it hasn’t in over a month, so it looks like I’m back in action! The mileage is slowly getting back up there and I’m feeling great.

The perfect end to a great run
Of course there was some post-race beer drinking. We are Americans afterall! For more pictures of the race and the party, check them out at my Flickr page HERE.

Training Run Report: Chocolate Bunny 50k

The days leading up to this year’s Chocolate Bunny were somewhat nerve-wracking. The Park Service had scheduled to do a controlled burn in the area we were to be running, so we didn’t know if the usual Chocolate Bunny route would be runnable. As if running a 50k on MMT trails in the dark isn’t hard enough, I don’t think a cloud of smoke and smoldering tree branches would have worked to the runners’ advantage. After careful deliberations with the Forest Rangers and a good rainfall the night prior to the race, Race Director Tom Corris got the email out indicating that the original Bunny route was a go.

The route was to take us from Route 211 East to Powell’s Fort Camp, aka miles 58.4 to 89.3 of MMT100. This run is perfect training to get accustomed to running the nighttime portions of the MMT course. You get to run it on fresh legs and rested (if you like), but still in the dark so when you’re hallucinating at 3am on race day, you at least know that the dancing gnomes up on Short Mountain were not there during your previous encounter.

Runners gathered at Powell’s Fort Camp and carpooled to the start at Route 211 East. We got in a quick group picture, contemplated how much the temps were going to drop throughout the night, and we were off at 7:45pm.

2009 Chocolate Bunny runners
Robin came up from GA to visit DC and run the Bunny for her MMT training

We had 9.3 miles to cover before our first aide station (by the way, I am noticing I spell it “aide” and not “aid”… is there a difference? Do I care? Do you? Didn’t think so…). We had a decent climb for the first 5 miles or so, then some downhills and a nice easy cruise up Crisman Hollow Road, followed by another ascent up Jawbone Gap Trail. Amongst others, I was running with John Cassilly during this section, and previously during MMT Training Run #2 he led us off-course at this very spot. Needless to say, we were very astute to make sure we didn’t do any unnecessary miles as we came up Jawbone.
Vince Bowman and Robin Meagher running on one of the few MMT road sections

I got into the first Aide Station of the night (Moreland Gap) in a little over 2 hours. Robin had fallen back a tad, so I waited for her to catch up since I knew Short Mountain was next on the agenda and it’s never fun going that alone. I spent probably 15 or 20 mins at the aide station, plenty of time to cool down and realize how cold it actually was outside. I thew on my longsleeve, refilled my hand-held bottle with Hammer Perpetuum (possibly using this as my nutrition during MMT), admired the unusual sight of Kiristin Corris wearing bunny ears and posting to Twitter with race updates, then headed back out onto the trail.

Me to Kirst: “Did I just get twotted?”

Short Mountain is notorious for the ungodly amount of rocks that cover the trail. The climb up Short Mountain isn’t difficult in the slightest, but after 8 miles of closely-spaced and deliberately-placed steps (wow, that rhymes) and some serious inversion/eversion of the feet, it is obvious to see why a good number of people drop from MMT immediately following this section.

Heading up Short Mountain
So sue me, it was dark.
A few miles into Short Mountain, I noticed that I was starting to get into a funk. Perhaps it was the combination of the late hour and not moving at my preferred pace, but I knew that I needed to pick up the pace a bit and zone out to get back into the game. I pulled away from the group and was now alone with my thoughts (and my flashlights too, I guess). At one point as I was running along the ridgeline I looked out to the west and saw the lights of the houses in the valley. It reminded me of a skydive I once did at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in Eloy, AZ – silent, dark, and with a gorgeous view of the lights below in the distance. After a minute of staring out into this, I remembered I was supposed to be running and I got back to it.

Typical view for the night, although the flash lights the trees too much and takes away from the beauty out in the distance.

Coming down off of Short Mountain and into Edinburg Gap for Aide Station #2 of the evening, the crew was noticeably more quiet. Maybe it was the lack of twittering? Perhaps, but at this point I knew I too was starting to feel the late-night drowsiness so I sat down and popped a caffeine pill (along with a ginger root pill and an electrolyte pill – if only I had glowsticks to make the picture more complete). The caffeine seemed to perk me up and the ginger calmed the hints of an uneasy stomach, so off I went to make the ascent up to Woodstock Tower.

Camera flashes in the eyes do not help with night vision, FYI.

The initial climb out of the aide station was a bit slow moving, but once on top of the ridgeline the footing was noticeably easier than Short Mountain and that equated to a much quicker pace. I got into a nice groove, passed a few folks and sang to myself to keep my brain from wandering (the rocks were turning into turtles, so I could definitely tell I was getting tired). At one point I ran into Brad Hinton running towards me. He had been holding down the #2 spot in the race, but apparently had gotten lost and turned around, losing over an hour due to backtracking. After passing a few runners and wondering why there were so many hikers out at this time of night, he finally recognized me as a familiar face and quickly turned himself around and headed in the right direction. He later dropped at Woodstock Gap, the next aide station, but I don’t blame him with all the extra mileage he got in.

Aside from the frequent tripping on rocks and dropping of my flashlight and almost losing it as it rolls down the mountain, I made it through Woodstock Gap aide station rather uneventfully. I took another video during the final 5 mile stretch, but forgot that my headlamp looking into the cmaera wouldn’t make for the best footage. Oh well, at least there is some commentary to go with it.

Blah blah blah, it’s dark and I’m tired.
The final few miles seemed to go on forever, but I eventually came to the final (and steep!) downhill section. I had been able to run down almost all of the downhills of the night without disturbing my ever-healing IT Band, but this section was just too steep so I was forced to walk. I arrived at the Powell’s Fort Camp parking lot a little after 3:00am, received my chocolate bunny from Tom (hence the race name), and finished with a time of 7:25. Not my best time for a 50k on MMT Trails, but given the darkness, my healing ITB and Short Mountain, I’d say that I’m pleased with it. It was an absolutely gorgeous night out and the Bunny went off without a hitch.

I enjoyed the spaciousness of my new car and rested for a bit while I waited for Robin to finish up. As you can see from the bloodshot eyes in the shot I took on the drive home, I clearly could have used a bit more rest, but I made it home safely so no complaints. Right now it is way past my bedtime on Sunday night and I should be sleeping to make up for last night, but I have priorities and I need to please my adoring fans (ha!). Thanks to Tom, Kirstin, Kris, Kristine, Walker and all the other volunteers for sacrificing their Saturday night (and Easter morning) so that we could enjoy our jaunt through the woods!

Bloodshot eyes – a byproduct of running, my natural high

MMT Training Run #2

The second MMT Training Run of the year was this past weekend, running south from Camp Roosevelt thru Gap Creek and north up to Woodstock Tower. I have been having some IT band pain in my left knee for the past two weeks, a result of running too fast (if that’s possible) at Holiday Lake. I had hoped it would be well enough to run all 25 miles of the training run, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case and instead I dropped at mile 16. I like to think that my decision to drop was one based off of sound reasoning for my health rather than the fact that there was beer at the mile 16 aide station. I’ll let you be the judge on that one.

The gang

The run itself, when not in pain, was pleasant. I ran with Phil Rosenstein and got to hear stories and strategies from Badwater and his recent trans-American run. Shortly after leaving the first aide station at mile 8 my IT band pain came back and I was having a hard time lifting my left foot over/around the jagged MMT rocks (see below). I knew that backtracking to the aide station would be useless since they would have moved on to aide station #2 by that time (gotta love roaming aide stations), so I just kept moving forward and eventually made it to the next spot to drop, mile 16.

MMT Trails


Most of the day’s fun was had after I stopped running and got to hang with Tom Corris and the rest of the drinkers… err… aide station volunteers. Tom found a deer hoof and it was immediately put to good use.

High five for the aide station crew!
Captain Hoof

And then of course the fun continued once we made it back to the finish line. Rick Kerby one-upped Tom’s deer hoof and found a mounted toilet seat in the woods. Clearly it needed to be brought back to the parking lot social gathering.

Duty calls
Unsure of how to react to Rick on the crapper

All in all, another good day with the VHTRC crew. Sad that I didn’t get to run the whole thing, but I went to physical therapy today and my therapist thinks my IT band will be good to go in no time. Until then I’ll just try to enjoy my forced downtime.

Link to Kirstin’s pics from the day.
Link to Q’s pics from the day.

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